Reflective Writing

How to Improve Reflective Writing Skills

1. Understanding Reflective Writing

Reflection is the process used to explore and interpret an experience in order to gain new understanding. This is a process that all students undertake as we develop ourselves in becoming more competent in the professions in which we practice. A more complete and complex overview can be found in Schon’s works, as his focus is to enable students in educational, healthcare and social care professions to derive their understanding, and become more independent learners through reflection. Reflection however is not a solitary process. It involves linking theory to practice. It also involves learning from others. By engaging with this process, words and meaning become increasingly definitive and we move away from the personal descriptive style and make more abstract assertions and concepts. Reflective writing is thus more personal than other kinds of academic writing. We all think reflectively in everyday life, of course, but perhaps not to the same depth as that expected in good reflective writing at university level. Reflective writing needs to have a clear purpose, consider other people’s points of views and express things learned from an experience. Reflective writing is not simply a description of an activity. It is an internal meaningfulness-making process. Reflective writing requires a clear line of thought, use of evidence or examples to illustrate your reflections on knowledge or experiences and the ability to express opinions in relation to the experience. Every new experience or connected group of experiences will lead to a different sort of reflection and a different end product. There is not a prescriptive form. The writer will gain an understanding of a topic. The writer will hopefully have followed its own good advice about the development of reflection and a rationale for its practice, and the importance of seeking out and discussing more depth learning to help improvement. By creating this, the writer hopes that their learning turns into a progressive cycle of experience, reflection, application, further experience and so on. This may constitute the wider social understanding of learning, and facilitate progress of other students, in addition to their own, and indeed, as a teacher.

2. Benefits of Reflective Writing

Reflective writing allows a writer to revisit an experience and describe their thoughts and feelings about that experience. Reflective writing is usually the easiest kind of thing to do because it is also introspective and does not necessitate substantial analysis of professional literature; it depends on your own views. As Dr. Haywood says, “reflection is a profound and meaningful skill; without the involvement of thoughtful reflection, educators will find it laborious and frustrating to move themselves to active better practices.” However, this kind of personal relating and criticizing could not be found out in other sorts of academic writing. Therefore, the benefits of reflective writing have a strong correlation with teacher professional development. First and foremost, teaching is a public as well as personal job, and it’s this same person’s repertoire of experience that tells the teacher how to respond to data, results, and theoretical prospects that are either uncertain or incomplete. Given that teaching nowadays could not be such as “Chan.”

3. Strategies for Effective Reflective Writing

We can also find effective reflective strategies in this section. A good strategy for drafting in reflective and effective writing is to “portray” and “reflect”. Writing-wise, this means first describing the general setting, giving a factual point of statement, articulating the actual “feeling scene” – the “reflective” element by thoughts and recollections, and expressing what could have been done differently, or what the experience has taught. Reflective writing often involves an action plan in which you should write about some actions that you’ve taken on the basis of reflection. Another key strategy is to engage the reader in transitional elements. It is believed that reflective writing on an academic module is usually time-framed in that there are pre-set times for doing the different tasks starting from the first week down to the end of the semester. This can be used as another useful strategy that is completing the different tasks at different times – like setting a time for doing the reading task and more time on the weekend for the assignment. One-to-one writing strategy creates the atmosphere for students to share their ideas. In general, reflection goes beyond showing that you have been able to follow a “standard academic essay” up by using a wide range of external sources because it should be the extent to which learning and thinking has taken place, by challenging existing knowledge on the topic. Also remember: no specialist knowledge is applied, no single theory is exhausted. It is a “reflective” and “critical” piece.

4. Examples of Reflective Writing

Emily’s reflective writing Emily responds to a recent assignment on critical thinking. “I was surprised by much that I did not know. I was familiar with the more obvious methods of brainstorming and mind mapping but was ignorant of the more sophisticated ways of locus points and movement through syllogisms. I was initially faced with the problem of arranging the disordered and disconnected Rip Van Winkle libretto into a continuous operatic scene. My first thoughts were to break the libretto into sections according to the different characters singing and move on from there. However, having realized the error of my work being like a simple reconstruction and not complex new thought, I sought an alternative method. Through my predisposition and refusal to step out of the chains of creative limitations, I found myself with an initial project, but not with the prospect of an original and lively system of conclusion and message. This project has been more than a simple set of guidelines; it has guided a metamorphosis in my creative and critical thinking capabilities. I see ideas, not simply in the obvious patterns or cycles, but in their evolution and relationships, both on a micro and macro scale.”

James’ reflective writing James looks back on his recent success in a competition. “I was used to the seclusion of practice, the only time being for revision. My words would pour out uncontrollably, and my fingers would shake. I was afraid of criticism and often fell into reverie, pulling myself out and continuing. But now my mind is no longer a nest of nettles; my thoughts are clear and my gaze steady. This newfound confidence and control has come alongside the ability to adapt and make fundamental changes despite a self-critical mind. I am no longer content to rest and let life pass by, but am driven by the passion for new experiences and a deeper understanding of myself within them. I need not the security of the life I lived before.”

5. Conclusion and Next Steps

In conclusion, my reflective writing has vastly improved during this course. By recognizing the strategies for effective writing and understanding the writing process in general, reflective writing has become an easy and enjoyable task for me. To keep this newfound success continuous in my future courses, the first thing I will do is save all of my works, rubrics, and syllabi electronically and in print. Doing so will not only keep me organized, but I can critically compare what I have learned about my writing and myself as a student and determine my future as well as present educational goals. Next, I will make every effort to not just complete my work, but to do it well and listen to every suggestion and follow every guideline. Although this is easier said than done, the more I write, often but in reasonable time frames, the more the positive, effective habits of reflective writing will set in and become routine. And finally, as well as one of the most important strategies is to remember the successes. When I receive a high grade or someone praises my work, take a moment and tell myself that my hard work and the attention to detail was worth the effort and lavish in the accomplishments of becoming a good writer. On the other hand, when my work needs improvement, understand that learning can derive from criticism, thus, it can be seen as a learning experience and not a negative at all. These next steps are really masters of the obvious but are logical ways to start improving immediately and continue to improve over the duration of my studies and extend the knowledge throughout my life. Well at last, just as the article tells us: “The ability to write about personal experience in a clear and organized way is a key skill for success not only in education, but also in many professions”. I feel confident that success in reflective writing is just the beginning! By mastering the next steps and keep on polishing my skills, the effective habits and the profound knowledge will stay with me for a lifetime and propel me to be a well-rounded, diligent learner and an excellent writer!

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